Racism and hatred, intolerance and bigotry, undermine society and our communities, and need to be immediately and strongly condemned by individuals, as well as elected officials, clergy, and all community leaders. It is our responsibility as Americans to oppose these evils at every turn.
Words alone only go so far.
We also need to take action by educating people to create awareness of what racism and hatred really are – how they can be explicit or veiled, deliberate or unconscious – and why they are so disruptive and dangerous, particularly in our Representative Democracy that exists to protect the rights of all people.
Recent national and local inflammatory rhetoric and ensuing tragic events propel us into heightened awareness and these incidents should be a call to action. Communities must face their very real problems and not accept violence and cloaked threats of violence as viable solutions. As we worry about recent disturbing trends in our nation and region, we must face the truths of our County with courage – and develop bold ideas and creative solutions.
We need to develop new ways of understanding and interacting with each other. Suspicion and intolerance do nothing but undermine our communities, heighten fear and can lead to violence and harm us in the long run. We need to acknowledge our differences and our commonalities, then work towards the County-wide common good.
Issues of development and overdevelopment, affordable housing shortages, limited water supply, increasing traffic on local roads, social justice concerns related to housing and our schools, and other issues are dividing our community further and further apart.
We must develop strategies to facilitate reconciliation and now, more than ever, I call for a reality-based, peaceful and mature County-wide mediation/intervention approach, where facts matter and all Towns and citizens are held to account. This is not an easy task. It will require months of work, authentic buy-in from all communities, expert facilitation and transparency. But it can be done. Other communities are already doing this or have done it. Rockland is late to take needed action.
It has been my honor and privilege to serve as a Rockland County Legislator for the past eight years. As I prepare to step down from the position, I pledge to continue to be a voice speaking out against intolerance and hatred of any person or group, and in support of equal protection, open speech and respect for all.
I will continue to work on these issues and hold our elected officials to account. I look forward to working with local civic organizations, grassroots groups, local residents and State, County, Town and Village elected officials to face our future with honesty, strength and courage.